The Five Best Hidden Restaurant Gems in Spring Branch
Oh, Long Point Road. You are a foodie's dream destination.
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg Check out the great spread at our No. 4 pick, a pupuseria.
There are consummate favorites Vieng Thai and El Hidalguense. There's Korea House, one of the most popular Korean restaurants in town, and Tacos Del Julio, home of greasy but delicious trompo. Detour a little and you'll find Polonia, Houston's only Polish joint, where the owners are happy to keep the vodka and pierogis flowing, and H-Mart, a Korean-food-lover's dream grocery store.
But Long Point Road and the surrounding area--let's just call it Spring Branch so as to be all-encompassing--also contains a multitude of culinary gems you might not know about. Here are five of the best relatively unknown spots in the area.
Oh, and each restaurant is representative of a different country. Don't you just love Houston?
Disclaimer: For the purposes of this post, Spring Branch is defined as bordered by Clay Road and Highway 290 to the north, Beltway 8 to the west, Katy Freeway to the south and Loop 610 to the east, but excludes the Memorial Villages (as those are categorized as Memorial).
5. La Plaza Mexican Restaurant
Photo by Troy Fields The milanesa at La Plaza is perfectly old-fashioned.
Since 1964, La Plaza has been serving up your Tex-Mex greasy spoon guilty pleasure cuisine morning, noon and night. It's an odd spot--part American diner filled with Longhorns memorabilia, part humble Tex-Mex and Northern Mexican eatery. It's old-fashioned Tex-Mex fare here, nothing cutting edge or fancy. As Robb Walsh suggested when he reviewed the spot back in 2009, your best bet is to skip the American diner food portion of the menu and go straight for the tried and true Mexican classics like milanesa and machacado.
4. Variedades El Salvador
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg The pupusas are served with the fork stabbed in them just like that.
Because Chris Shepherd of Underbelly is a huge fan of Long Point Road restaurants (and he knows them all) I approached him for an opinion of his favorite little-known spots. His response contained no words, just a photo he texted to me of the exterior of Variedades El Salvador. He wanted me to see for myself. When I entered, I discovered the place is a seemingly incongruous mix of pupuseria, convenience store and discount clothing outlet. Whether you want a soft drink, a soccer jersey or a pupusa con loroco with a side of curtido, you'll find it here. Make sure to get a side of curtido--lightly pickled cabbage slaw--to eat with the pupusas to cut the fat. These stuffed corn cakes filled with cheese are heavy, but wonderful. Also note that no one speaks English here. Fortunately for people like me who only know French and Italian ('cause those are super useful in South Texas), rudimentary sign language and a smile also work.
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1803 Bingle Road, Houston, TX